Coming up in Committee: Twenty-Two Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, May 12 – May 14


1. S0132: Establishes minimum amounts of time served, before a prisoner is eligible for parole; 50% of a non-life sentence for 1st or 2nd degree murder, 25 years for a life-sentence for 1st or 2nd degree murder, and 20 years for a life sentence for any crime other than 1st or 2nd degree murder. (H Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

2. S0624: Creates a Joint Committee of the Repealer within the legislature, composed of six members from both houses, to “compile suggestions for repeal of statutes, regulations, and executive orders received from citizens, businesses, and government agencies”. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

3A. H6145: Requires that redevelopment agencies in Providence and only Providence (i.e. in “any city or town with more than one hundred thousand residents”) “be permitted to construct new buildings for commercial or industrial uses contemplated by its redevelopment plan”. (H Municipal Government; Thu, May 14) It’s not immediately clear from the language in the bill whether “be permitted” means “be allowed” or “be automatically given permits”.

3B. Bud. Art. 29: Gives the Commerce Corporation power to issue tax-credits for large construction projects, with special provisions allowing projects in Providence — oh, excuse me; in communities with 150,000 or more in population — to be fast-tracked, allowing them to bypass local building and inspection requirements. (S Finance; Thu, May 14)

4. On Wednesday, May 13, the House Finance Committee will hear the department budget for the single largest major division in the state budget, $2.4B for the Executive Office Of Health and Human Services.

5. H6026: Removes the requirement that someone overdue on their court fines be given 30 days notice before their name is published. (H Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

6. H6081: Requires businesses located in the Town of Hopkinton to register with the town clerk. (H Municipal Government; Thu, May 14) This bill may at least pass the House, at least, and since it clearly applies to the affairs and government of a particular city or town in a substantial way, the question of why there is no home-rule referendum associated with it needs to be addressed.

7. S0625: Makes it illegal to distribute indecent material that was created “without the consent of the person or all persons depicted in the visual image”. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

8. H5719: Eliminates RI sales-tax liability, if such liability exists solely due to an online purchase being initiated from a link on a Rhode Island website as part of a referral agreement between the seller and the website owner. (H Finance; Tue, May 12)

9. H5625: Shortens the statute-of-limitations (to use an unofficial term for the sake of brevity) after which an unpaid mortgage may no longer be foreclosed upon. (H Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

10. H6035: Requires a certificate of good standing from the Rhode Island Division of Taxation to be included with certain business “instruments” (i.e. paperwork) filed with the Rhode Island secretary of state. (H Corporations; Tue, May 12)

11. S0667: Adds “individually identifiable evaluations of public school superintendents, administrators, principals and all other school employees” to evaluations of teachers on the list of records not considered public under the access to public records act. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

12. Sales tax exemptions on the portion of an automobile lease that goes towards property taxes 2, “Consideration received by a retailer from a service provider in relation to the sale of a service agreement for cellular, mobile, or other wireless telephone”, “the purchase or use of tangible personal property or services used to access the internet”, utilities costs paid by commercial business, “Pet care services” (except “veterinary and testing laboratories services”), “the purchase for use, or consumption of fuel oil by commercial establishments”, “seeds and plants used to grow food and food ingredients”, “tangible personal property or services that is critical or necessary to the receiving, initiating, amplifying, processing, transmitting, retransmitting, switching, or monitoring of switching of telecommunications, cable television, or internet access service, or any combination thereof”, taxicabs and limousines, taxicabs and all other forms of ground transportation, fuel oil, propane, and natural gas used by commercial establishments, the Industrial Foundation of Burrillville and gun safes. Also, a property tax exemption on office equipment greater than ten years old. (H Finance; Tue, May 12)

13. S0591: Allows the Governor of Rhode Island to “designate any person to solemnize a particular marriage on a particular date and in a particular city or town” for a $150 fee. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

14. 3 changes to RI election procedures; S0631 changes the time that ballots must be preserved after an election, from “the first day of September in the second year after the ballots were cast” to “twenty-two months”; S0635 removes the affadavit procedure currently required, before a person whose name is not on the voter list at their polling place can cast a “provisional ballot” in an RI election; and S0636 eliminates the double-envelope requirement for RI mail ballots. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

15. S0813/H6001: From the official description: “This act would allow employers to make voluntary contributions to their unemployment account, in order to lower their unemployment insurance tax rate for the following calendar year”. (S Finance; Tue, May 12 & H Labor; Thu, May 14)

16. S0727: “No service provider of any covered facility may use a prone restraint at anytime”. A “covered facility” is defined as “any agency, organization, or public or private entity, regardless of the state agency under whose authority its license or certification is established, that provides support or care, residential support, education, health care, treatment, or direct supervision [but] does not include any law enforcement department, the department of corrections, the training school for youth, or the forensic unit at the Eleanor Slater Hospital”. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

17. H5738: “There shall be a sales tax holiday on the first full weekend in August of each year”. (H Finance; Tue, May 12)

18. S0254: Authorizes law enforcement officers to provide verbal warnings to motorists who are smoking in a vehicle “containing a child who is restrained or required to be restrained” under current safety law. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

19. S0127: Decriminalizes a person’s first two instances of driving without a license. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

20. H6146: Extends the definition of “building” in the state’s abandoned property law to include buildings or structures whose use is entirely commercial. (Under existing law, a structure must have at least one floor that’s residential to be considered a “building”). (H Municipal Government; Thu, May 14)

21. S0250: Requires a first-time driver’s license applicant to receive “six hours of over-the-road driver’s training from a licensed driver’s training school in this state” before obtaining a license. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

22. H5873: Process changes related to expungement of criminal records.(H Judiciary; Tue, May 12)

Ranking indeterminate: S0704: Abolishes the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Coordinating Board. (S Environment and Agriculture; Wed, May 13)

S0893: Exempts the Pascoag utility district from having to offer “retail access from nonregulated power producers to all customers”. (S Commerce; Thu, May 14)

Inobvious Priorities: S0539 >> Official definition of “mattress”; S0740 >> Exchanges one set of vague guidelines for the “Financial Integrity and Accountability” of state agencies and quasi-public corporations for a new set of vague guidelines.

Local Impact: Newport.